New headphones, advice for a novice

I’m just the opposite - I much prefer full sized over the ear headphones to on-ear headphones. Go figure.

1 Like

Ha Ha this is exactly why the manufacturers make so many different styles and types as certainly one size does not fit all! I had some Focal over-the-ear models I auditioned a year or so ago and was not too thrilled with them, however, they were the more low-end model (the Listen models) and not the highly rated cans they make now. I do have a bit of an urge to give them a try. I do also have a pair of Sony over-the-ear BT noise-cancelling cans for travel and have been pleased with them as well but don’t evaluate them in the same way, since they are not used as often as the other headphones I have. Happy Listening.

Yes very true - one size does NOT fit all.

A word of caution about Focal and there customer service: I have/had a very nice pair of focal Elear headphones on which one of the drivers went. I contacted Focal only to find that replacement drivers are only sold in pairs and for a price that is almost 80% of the price of a completely pair of Elears! I guess that I won’t be any more Focal headphones in the near future.

For what it’s worth - all the upper end full size Focal headphones do sound really, really good and quite comfortable, just make sure not to damage them :grin:

This is disappointing to hear as I have had a good impression of the company. I own a pair of Aria 906 speakers that have worked well (but have needed no customer service so I have no knowledge of that side of the business). I will certainly keep this in mind. I have heard similar things about other high end companies on many of the audio sites, some of the companies seem to make it a philosophy to be downright nasty to their customers post-sale. Any time I can go interface in person with a dealer (even if it’s a big-box guy) I usually am happier with the results than a call center or online chat.

Matching left and right drivers is a key step in headphone manufacturing.
That may be a reason to sell the drivers only in pairs. See this video.
Maybe you can return the pair to Focal so that they can repair the faulty driver or replace it with a matched driver.

Just wanted to say that the customer service wasn’t nasty in any way, it’s just that I was bit taken back by the price of the replacement parts.

Unfortunately no offer was made by Focal for any type of return or repair service.

This was a very interesting video, I had no idea that is how they handled the drivers in headphones. Do you know if all manufacturers employ this kind of technique? I wonder if they do it via regular speakers as well, I do now recall seeing mention from ads before about matched pair (usually in conjunction with the pitch about them being consecutive serial numbers).

@Larry_Herrett I do not know about other headphone manufacturers.
I suppose it will depend on the price point of the headphones.

Hi all,

Thanks for all the comments and input. I have done some reading, although no listening tests yet. I thinking of pitching the set-up a bit lower so I can see how I get on with things. The thinking being i will be able to make use of the bits of kits if I don’t really get on with headphone listening.

I am thinking of something like this at the moment.

Streamer (Allo Digione spdif) – DAC/AMP (PRO-JECT AUDIO PRE BOX S2) – Headphones (Meze 99 Classic)

I am already in the process of building the Digione with an existing RPI, I am just waiting on Allo. I will then get the other bits and pieces as I listen and then when funds allow.

A reasonable plan.

An interesting experience: yesterday my son came to visit. He is a jazz musician, plays bass. I wanted to show him the new AAA 789 headphone amp:

It’s hooked up to a $80 DAC, but also to Audeze LCD-4z headphones. He knows Roon, has his own license, I gave him the iPad and went out to the kitchen to prepare dinner.

He came and told me, he had picked up a Sonny Rollins album from Tidal. He had a transcription of the bass part, and has used that to practice with. The transcription includes some very subtle nuances, he assumes they must be correct, but he has never heard them when listening to his speakers, or his headphone rig — all gear that is reasonable but low end. On my rig, he heard it instantly.

Telling that story just to illustrate why a really good headphone rig is worth the money. And that not all good gear is expensive, the AAA 789 amp is $350.

Thanks @AndersVinberg - I have my name down to be notified by massdrop when available, so this could be an alternative. I would need to find DAC obviously.

It would also give you a bit more flexibility with headphones - I don’t think the Pre Box S2 copes all that well with high impedance headphones (it wasn’t usable for me with HD650s).

Edit: Another cheap but decent option for the amp would be the Arcam rHead…not as good as the recommendation from Anders but generally available for less than half the price and will drive pretty much anything I think.

I have all the gears you listed. They are all very good but pay attention to the Meze. They are extremely easy to drive, to the point that you don’t need an headphone amp. I love how the Meze sound but I didn’t like them with the S2 Digital and moved them to my office driven by Dragonfly Black and they are still too loud.

One of my favourite headphones shops , spiritland - very nice chap who usually fronts the shop and have a great selection to sample. Bought my N90s and the LCDs from this place.

I just had notice that the THX AAA™ 789 Linear Amplifier is back via mass drop, I wonder whether this might be too good to pass up. I built the streamer as I mentioned above, the Allo Digione, and its sitting happily feeding my Arcam irDACII at my home desk set-up now. So, I might struggle to extricate it again as I like it. So I might consider getting another. Anyway, it doesn’t look like the amp is shipping until May, but I am in no massive rush.

@AndersVinberg, are you still as effusive in your praise? Any more reflections or should I just order and worry later? I am in the UK but Massdrop look like they will ship it over here.

Oh well, in the time I was writing and doing a bit of reading the drop has ended. Must have been popular!

Damn, I just came online and saw your note, I was going to buy one or two more!

They apparently sold another 1,000 or so, with 10,000 requests.
Never mind, they will build more.
Or you can spent $3,100 for the Benchmark equivalent.

462 units in this drop according to the confirmation email I received :grin: If it doesn’t play nicely with my Beyerdynamic T1 (2nd Gen) 's I’ll put it up for grabs on the Sales and Trades thread…

My favorite set of headphones with the AKG N90Q a very close second.

1 Like